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Philadelphia officials ‘appalled’ after dead bodies transported from hospital in pickup truck

On Sunday afternoon, the image of several dead bodies being transported in the bed of a pickup truck from a hospital to the medical examiner’s office was published by The Philadelphia Inquirer. On Tuesday, Philly’s Department of Public Health condemned those responsible, saying that the method of transport was “not normal or acceptable.”

There’s been an increased need for body storage space in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, and in the photograph, the bodies were being delivered from Albert Einstein Medical Center to a refrigerated trailer secured by the city. There were five or six in the pickup truck, wrapped in white body bags and covered by a mat, with a man standing on top of them while they were being unloaded.

The medical center, in a statement to the Inquirer, said it “deeply apologized” for the situation, and said it had reached out to the funeral home it contracts for this kind of transportation, seeking more information about their pandemic protocols.

In a statement, Philadelphia's public health department claimed that this shocking image was an isolated incident.

“The Medical Examiner’s Office regularly works with hospitals throughout Philadelphia to ensure that bodies are treated with the utmost dignity and respect. Part of that relationship is well-established and long-standing transportation protocols,” a spokesperson said. “On Sunday, these protocols were not followed during what was expected to be a routine transfer of bodies for storage. The Health Department is appalled that this happened, and strongly reminded the referring hospital of the existing protocols. This is not normal or acceptable.”

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